August 18th, 2008
10:17 AM ET

When is it too early for potty time?

By Shahreen Abedin
CNN Medical Senior Producer

We have a new piece of furniture in our living room. It’s a potty chair.

It all started when I was browsing a parenting blog and came across a string on potty training. This mother was saying her kid started going in the potty at 9 months. And I thought, hey my baby’s almost 9 months - I should try this too! After all, I know when my baby is about to poop because he gets this unmistakable grimace. So I should be able to run him to the potty chair at the first sign. And besides, we know a couple who figured out that their 6-month-old daughter “goes” every day at 10:15 a.m., so that’s when they sit her on the toilet and so they never deal with poopie diapers – so cool, I thought!

I read all the product recommendation Web sites, figured out which one would best suit our little boy, and promptly went out and purchased a brand new potty chair. My mother-in-law happened to be visiting that week, so she was with me and in her very supportive, non-judgmental way, she went along with it all, waiting patiently for the sales associate to go pull out the non-gender specific colored model from the back. But later on I heard her on the phone with my aunt, and they both seemed to be chuckling. “Yes, he’s only 8 1/2 months, but she’s trying to potty train him,” she said.

When I talked to my own mom, she pointed out that my little one is a boy: “Boys take much longer to potty train, don’t you know?” No, I didn’t know. As a 33-year-old, I tend not to read too many books on how to do this whole parenting thing. I figure, I’ve absorbed enough along the way from other people’s kids to have the basic gist of it, and the rest can come from instinct or common sense.

When I tried putting the baby on the potty chair to get the feel for it, he seemed to be more interested in taking the pot part out and putting it on his head. That’s when I started to wonder if I was totally off the mark with starting this early, so I googled “potty training,” and found that a couple of the health authorities give some pretty solid tips on how to get your kid used to going in the potty, including the suggestion that you put the chair in the living room and let the baby sit on it, fully clothed, so he gets comfortable with it. We put ours right next to the Bumbo chair.

The sites also say that potty training usually doesn’t start until 18 months to two years. A whole more YEAR of this?? Please, folks – am I crazy to think our child might be advanced enough for his age to start going in the potty sooner? And am I really pushing it since he’s a boy – are boys really slower at this game?

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.